Does the Government’s ‘First Homes’ consultation raise more questions than answers?

In one of his most important announcements as Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick has launched a consultation on allowing first-time buyers to purchase new homes with a 30% discount.

Tackling the housing crisis, the proposals will focus on young first-time buyers, key workers and veterans and will apply to a proportion of new homes. The discount will have to be passed onto future buyers, and it will all be funded by contributions already paid by housing developers through the planning system.

However, questions remain, such as: does this mean less shared ownership or social rent homes? Will the money allocated to First Homes be taken away from provision for key infrastructure in local areas already provided by CIL and S106 obligations? Also, will the Government’s commitment to build infrastructure before new homes affect delivery of these homes?  Will the rigidity of the system to preserve the one-third discount in perpetuity really work?

All these nagging questions may be be addressed by the consultation which runs until 3rd April and asks:

  • What are First Homes and who should be eligible for them?
  • How the scheme should work in practice?
  • How to deliver more of these homes through developer contributions
  • The requirements for delivering these homes through planning or legislation
  • How to maintain the discounted element in perpetuity

Following the failure of the Governments Starter Homes scheme, it’s crucial for them to get this right second time around.

Schemes such as this and Building Better, Building Beautiful design initiative could be a legacy of Robert Jenrick’s tenure as Housing Secretary and Boris Johnson’s first term in Government.

And with the Government’s Help to Buy scheme set to end in 2023, this scheme could be part of a wider shift in the planning system, as developer contributions are used to target benefits for key demographics and political priorities.